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PENNY PRIDDY'S MOTION ON KOMAGATA MARU: APOLOGY, MEMORIAL AND EDUCATION
The following is the motion that Surrey North MP Penny Priddy presented in the House of Commons on Friday and which was rejected by the Conservatives but supported by all three Opposition parties:
"That this House officially apologize for the injustice of the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, And, that this House further calls on the government of Canada to honour this apology by creating a permanent memorial in British Columbia to remember this incident, and by also developing an anti-racism advocacy and educational trust fund to avert a repeat of this historic injustice."
In an email to the media, Priddy added: "Nina Grewal of the Conservatives conveniently left just minutes before the motion was brought forward in the House. All MP's including Nina was given an advanced copy of this motion and she knew that this was coming up but she still left."
Earlier, Priddy said: "I am proud of the statements made by my NDP leader Jack Layton in relation to Komagata Maru, and see it as appropriate that the NDP leads the way.
However, I am very disappointed with steps taken by the Conservative government in trying to address these issues. In particular, James Abbott's Report of Meetings with Representatives of the Indo-Canadian Community, submitted to Beverly J. Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage, did not offer a complete apology.
"I am someone who was welcomed into the South Asian community almost 20 years ago. One of the first stories I heard was that of the Komagata Maru incident. Since then I have worked within the community and with my NDP colleagues to ensure that this incident gets the right attention that it so rightly deserves.
"Even in a more tolerant Canada, the Komagata Maru incident remains a powerful symbol for all South Asians that reminds them of their past. I support the position of our party Leader, Jack Layton and believe that an unequivocal apology must be read out in the House of Commons to address the concerns of all South Asians. Also, I support the construction of a memorial. A memorial is a place that all families regardless of their race, religion, or gender, can take their children and tell the story of the incredible strength, resilience, hope and disappointment of the passengers on the ill-fated voyage.
"Lastly, as I have advocated in the past, the Komagata Maru tragedy must become part of the regular school curriculum across Canada and not just merely mentioned in a class textbook. The history books read by students in British Columbia must reflect the real diversity of our province's and country's history. They often fail to do so. They must begin with the honoured traditions of Aboriginal peoples whose land this was before any outside contact.
"In the course of time, many immigrants, not only South Asians, came to Canada seeking a better life for their families. We must also write of the contribution of Sikh pioneers. They worked to build our wood industry, to establish farms, as they had in their native Punjab, and to begin manufacturing businesses. When we write of our pioneers and how they helped to shape BC, we must write of the Komagata Maru.
"I will continue to work with my NDP colleagues to pursue a full apology from government and I hope to see all you at the 93rd Anniversary of the Komagata Maru Incident at Lumbermans's arch this Sunday (May 20)."